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Thread: NY/Miami, 2015

  1. #1

    Default NY/Miami, 2015

    I just got back from Miami, Florida's 6/10ths imitation of New York.

    One of the main streets out of Downtown is Brickell Avenue, a street that has transformed, in my memory, from a palm-lined avenue of graceful mansions just across the Miami River bridge from downtown, into an extension of Midtown that now has most of the new skyscrapers.
    It is still lined with palms, but they keep wilting because they don't get enough sunlight. Shadows from the towers that line Brickell for about a mile plunge the avenue into deep shade for much the day.

    The buildings are gorgeous. I miss the mansions, but their replacements are worthy.
    Architects must love getting commissions in Miami. The predominant style for the big ones is Dubai-like, ie: slender, glassy highrises, festooned with geometric, reflective bumps and folds, a latent sense of tropical whimsy and a gardened, business-like main entrance on Brickell that no one uses because nearly everybody will enter the place from the parking garage. There's very little "street life".

    Miami has gone through a remarkable change in the last decade. It now has the third largest cluster of skyscrapers--structures over 35 floors--in the country, and it's catching up with Chicago as I write this. Viewing the cityscape from one of the Miami Beach causeways is like looking at Manhattan from the LI Expressway. The view out the windshield, left or right, is an endless parade of really tall buildings bumping up against the sands of Biscayne Bay, with even taller ones peeking up behind them. And crossing the Miami River and entering Brickell from the skyscraper garden that Downtown has become is like being transported to a recently-built New York canyon street-- a sudden 57th Street, just all brand-new and shiny.

    Two blocks east and behind all these new office buildings is the Bay, and those streets are all lined with tall condos. It reminded me of what Hudson Yards is trying to become. Their respective sites, each just a couple hundred yards from Big Water, are nearly identical in places. There's a main, North/South Avenue just off the center of town, clustered with glittery business towers at the core, and behind them, waterside, it's all residential towers. The whole area along Brickell is adjacent to Miami's People Mover, their elevated "Subway"

    One of the most striking buildings on Brickell Avenue is the Espiritu Santo Tower. The HQ of an offshore Bank, Espiritu, which was designed by Kohn, Pederson and Fox, is a sunglass-dark, 40-floor tower with an arched, concave fašade that magically changes contour as you pass it. The front of the thing could be bulging out or drawing inward, depending on where you are. The curious interplay of light and shadow and movement can make it appear to breathe, like a glass abdomen. It's clever.

    The reason for all this introspection is New York-sourced. I've been reading about the new #7 Subway station, and the adjacent Hudson Yards development, and I realized that Kohn, Pederson and Fox are the perfect ( the only) architects for that New Town site. They're becoming the SOM of the decade. They've done some really nice buildings, like the mirrored 333 Wacker Drive in Chicago and the Shanghai World Financial Center ( the one that looks like an electric razor); they designed the ICC Tower in HK, a stunning, fifteen hundred-foot rocket ship on the waterfront--and many others. Now they have the opportunity to transform several square blocks of The Big City, and if past is prelude to future and they enhance their architectural chops, they just may get it right.

    Hudson Yards, if it goes as they've outlined, will be composed of around 16 KPF-designed skyscrapers lining a 6-8 block, park-festooned Grand Avenue--(between 10th and 11th starting north of 33rd St) with tall buildings lining it for blocks, a great reproduction of Brickell on Manhattan's West Midtown. Some of their preliminary drawings show a parade of tilted, silver buildings with odd tops lining either side of the aforementioned Avenue, with a few others scattered over a platform that will roof over the Yards and create a huge train barn below them. Looking at aerial pics of Miami, South of the River is like seeing a quick glimpse into West Manhattan's future.

    (I know-it's only preliminary sketches, but the outline shows the intent, right??).

    There's upward of $20 Billion involved, and the success of the project will forever alter Hell's Kitchen, Chelsea and the Penn Station/ Javits Center zone, just as the Brickell mansions were altered out of their existence. One of the towers is already near topping-out and a dozen more will follow, soon. New York's changing Southwest Midtown could have a little piece of Miami dropped upon it, along with a little piece of it's 19th century landscape forever lost. And, there's now a way to get there via Subway, New York's version of a "People Mover".
    Last edited by Hof; September 14th, 2015 at 06:23 PM.

  2. #2


    Hi Hof, I know I'm late posting a reply, not sure when you'll read it. I get the NY/Miami comparison. I took a day trip down there from Fort Lauderdale in 2008, and while I didn't pass through downtown Miami, parts of Miami Beach struck me as NYC with a beach. At first I was only mildly disappointed, then I thought this is great that they're keeping these fine old hotels amid all the new development.

    I have a disposable camera roll I took that I'll post another time.

    Btw the Scarface Columbian murder hotel was - at the time I visited anyway - a modeling agency. The round windows that were the bathroom windows are now solid blue bubbles.


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